Northern California Lightning Fires – August 20, 2023

Lookout maps and commentary by: Ryan Cowper Stephens

Table of Contents:

Smith Complex

Happy Camp Complex

SRF Lightning Complex

There are a number of fires burning in far Northwestern California and now we’ve got maps to prove it. Due to a mechanical failure on the plane used to map these fires up north, we’ve had four straight days of UTF (unable to fly) status. Not having accurate mapping on fires can cause many logistical issues on the ground for firefighters and at minimum, it’s stressful for people who live near these fires to be completely in the dark about where the active fire is and which way it’s moving. Last night, they finally got wings in the air and we now should have very accurate infrared perimeters for many of the fires.


Progression Map:

Ops map:



Smith Complex IR interpreter’s log book:

Although they got a plane up, the IR scan for the Smith Complex was partially corrupted.

Smith Complex Lookout 12 hour progression maps

Red to Orange fill in the fire perimeter represents 12 hours of fire progression

Smith Complex Overview:

Kelly Fire Overview:

Kelly Fire Looking East up HWY 199 :

Over the past 12 hours between IR mapping, fire spread to the south and west. Fire moved along the 199 corridor to the west, into the Cedar Forest campground. To the South fire ran 1.76 miles up Coon Mountain.

Holiday, Diamond, Corral Fires Overview:

Holiday Spread:

Fire spread 2.37 miles North to the California/Oregon border


Ops Map:

Canyon, Elliot, Ufish, and Malone Fires

Branch X:

Head Fire

Branch XX:

Head Fire Topo Map:


Head Fire Lookout Maps


New mapping changed the perimeters quite a bit. White line shows previous perimeter and red line is current perimeter. Appears to be a new start or very long range spot up north near white’s cabin.

Scott Bar Looking west:

Hamburg Looking East:

New Start?:


SRF LIGHTNING COMPLEX (Includes Bluff Complex, Glen, Lost, Let er-Buck, Pearch, and Lone Pine Fires)

Briefing Map Overview ALL FIRES:



Note poor IR data in maps*

Pearch Topo:


Bluff Complex Overview:

Legend in the upper left corner of the map


Briefing Map:

Lone Pine Topo Map: